Throwback: Growing up as a father

Editor’s note:  This article was first published in Kodak Philippines’ company newsletter, Larawan, on July 1987.

FAMILY MAN: Alejandro Pe with his wife, Susana, and his firstborn son, Mino, back in 1986.

My son, Mino, is now a nineteen month old toddler who has become harder to catch on the run. He still can’t beat me in the 100 meter dash, but he can make me pant and rant when I run after him to make sure that he doesn’t break any glass at SM’s glassware section. Nineteen months ago, the only things I chased after were the monthly sales quota pushed down my throat by my hard driving sales manager. Of course, a few years back before Mino’s birth, I ran after his mother who took quite a time to decide to let me catch her. By the time I caught up with her, I was already thirty-two years old, and more than ready to be a husband and a father. After all, 32 years is a lot of years to grow up, to mature,  and to become wise and experienced… or so I thought. All that changed when Mino came along.

I was prepared for him. In fact, my wife and I even wanted him. Yes, I desperately wanted a son or a daughter right on the first year of married life. And God blessed us with a son we named Mino. From a bachelor, to a husband, to a father in a span of nine months was not an earthshaking experience at the start. There were a few jolts, I must confess. The first jolt that I got as a father was right in the operating room of the hospital when Mino delivered his first cry. “I’m a father now,” I remembered saying to myself. The second jolt was at the cashier’s office when I got the bill for the caesarean section birth. “I’m a debtor and a loaner,” I moaned. I had my fondest memories of Kodak Employees’ Savings and Loan Association at that time.

The next nineteen months from Mino’s birth were months of me growing up as a father. I thought I had a lot of things to teach my son after having gone through 32 years of rough and tough living in this world. Mino taught me otherwise. I had a lot to learn from this nineteen-month-old tough guy. That is somewhat difficult to admit, but my son is my best teacher in learning how to be a good father. The first lesson Mino taught me was very basic: how to take care of him when my wife is not around to take care of him. Like most fathers, I purposely left the  task of feeding the baby, changing the diapers, and cleaning up the mess a baby makes to my wife. She is the mother after all. But father and son are left to their own devices at times. Those times when there is no one else around to take care of the baby but me I remember with little fondness. Mino taught me how to handle his mess. The mess could be wet and sticky. The first time I changed Mino’s diaper, the mess was all over my hands. The next surprise was another mess coming right at the moment the undiapered baby was on my lap. Talk about incentive or motivation to learn; there was no better motivation than to be messed up all over. Mino taught me how to handle it and to be tricky. I never let myself be alone with him.

“The next nineteen months from Mino’s birth were months of me growing up as a father. I thought I had a lot of things to teach my son after having gone through 32 years of rough and tough living in this world. Mino taught me otherwise.”

Another lesson I learned from my son is to teach by example. Children are good mimics and try to follow what their parents do. I have a fondness for reading the newspaper in the morning while lying down in the sofa. I was surprised one morning when Mino pulled me down from  the sofa, grabbed the newspaper I was reading, climbed up the sofa, and pretended to read the upside down newspaper. Just like his Papa. Mino also has an obsession of grabbing the steering wheel of the car every time I take him for a drive. Because Papa drives, Mino thinks that he can drive as well. But the best example I have set so far to my son is eating well. By all standards, I am grossly overweight. So is Mino. His pediatrician cannot find any chart to compare his weight. Mino really followed my example.

The most important lesson I learned from Mino, however, is learning how to love my wife the way Mino loves his mother. My wife and Mino’s mother are one and the same person, of course. But Mino loves his mother without reservation, with full devotion, and with all admiration. After all, she is the source of his sustenance. She is love and care personified. And it is by watching Susan, my wife, take care of Mino that I came to realize that she is indeed a good mother and the best wife in the world. Mino taught me to love her even more.

I thought that being a father is an easy job. I was confident that 32 years of prior experience have made me adequately prepared to be a good father to my nineteen-month-old son. Now I know otherwise. I have to grow up as father and learn from my son as we grow together: he, to be a good son, and I, to be a good father. AAP

 img-929152005-0001Since the first publication of this article, Alejandro Pe has had two other kids, Iya Nicole and Andrew Dominic, all of whom also have AD/HD. Through his involvement with the AD/HD Society of the Philippines, where he also served as president, he has learned a lot more about his children and being a father. He has brought his family around the world along with his work. He is currently the Managing Director of Transmedic Philippines.

Mino, on the other hand, is now 28 years old. He graduated from the Philippine Women’s University with a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management, Major in Culinary Arts, in 2013. He continues to follow his father’s example in eating well. He still loves his mother without reservation, even to the point of hugging her in public, and has finally learned how to be a good son.

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